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Ian O'Byrne

You cannot teach a crab to walk straight. - Aristophanes In issue of the TL;DR Newsletter - #identity


Ian O'Byrne

The palace is not safe when the cottage is not happy. - Benjamin Disraeli In issue of my newsletter. You should subscribe at #civilian


Ian O'Byrne

Policy, advocacy, & activism in education

1 min read

We're quickly moving into an age of of decreased trust in institutions and "alternative facts." This impacts work in education, research, and scholarship.

The more that I investigate this online, it is difficult to identify sources from a variety of perspectives that help shape and problematize our thinking about these concepts.

Who do you read and follow online when you want to think about issues of policy, advocacy, & activism? I would like read more from individuals or groups that are actively writing, tweeting, & sharing about these issues in educational contexts.

I'm looking to build this list openly and collaboratively. I'm also looking for individuals from a variety of perspective that represent a diversity of opinions.  


Please share names and where to find these materials online as a comment below, or on this Google Doc. You can sign out of your Google Account and leave this information anonymously.

Alternatively, you may also DM me on Twitter and I'll add (or remove) your information from the list.


Thank you in advance. Please feel free to share this list widely.



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Ian O'Byrne

Managing your passwords

4 min read

One the first steps in discussing privacy and security in online spaces usually involves your passwords. The challenge is that far too many of us have awful passwords, or terrible systems to handle these passwords.

There are several things we need to assume as we work with digital tools.

  • You will be hacked
  • You have already been hacked and don't know it
  • You will have to change your passwords quickly when you are hacked
  • You will most likely have to change passwords often

Changing your passwords frequently is one of the simplest things you can do to protect yourself from digital threats. Now that we have that out of the way, let's consider how to effectively manage the situation. In this post I discuss using a password manager, and two possibilities for creating challenging passwords.

Use a password manager

Password managers are a smart way to keep track of your passwords. A password manager is a giant vault that stores all of your passwords and uses one master password to let you log in. Keep in mind that no system is perfect...even password managers. You have to trust the company controlling your passwords to let you know if they have been hacked.

I use LastPass. I know plenty of other people that use 1Password and KeePass. Each service provides different features that you can review. The benefit of a password manager is that they will often warn you about security breaches of services and recommend that you change your passwords. Password managers will also create meaningless, random passwords using a variety of characters, symbols, and lengths.

How I use LastPass

I install the LastPass Chrome extension, which is automatically synced across all computers that I use. When I sign in to my computer and start up Chrome, a pop-up will ask me to log in to LastPass using my master password. The LastPass Chrome extension works well on Chromebooks as well. 

I also use two-factor authentication with LastPass as well. I'll discuss two factor authentication in another post.

I also install LastPass on my Android phone/tablet as well as my iOS devices (iPad/iPhone).

Create challenging passwords

If you do have to create a password that you'll need to remember, I have a couple tricks to check out.

Use song/movie lyrics

Use a song lyric (or movie line) to create a challenging master password. Keep in mind that you should use this password once, or use it as your master password for a password manager. Pull out the spaces, add a random character or two, and add in some capital letters.


If you want to make it even more challenging, eliminate letters, or swap them out for other characters. Start with a line like:

Living off borrowed time, the clock tick faster.

Eliminate some of the letters and substitute the characters to get something a bit more random.


Create an algorithm

If the song or movie lyrics do not work for you, I recommend using a formula or set of rules for your password system. Once again, this might not be the perfect solution...but it should get you started.

To create your algorithm, identify a base layer of your formula. This could be an important name, birthday, or series of characters. As an example, you might use your dog's name, street you grew up on, and the year of your birth.


This initial sequence would be the base layer of your password system. From there, you would add the name or the product or service you're logging in to somewhere in the sequence. You'll just have to remember the rules of your algorithm.

If you are logging in to Google, your password might look like:


If you are logging in to Facebook, your password might look like:


Develop a system

One of the key takeaways from this is the need to be aware of your passwords and develop a system. One password for everything is not an option. You need to be aware of your passwords, or the system used to manage them. You need to be prepared to change any/all passwords at any moment. 



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Ian O'Byrne

Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none. - Shakespeare

Ian O'Byrne

The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival. - Aristotle

2 min read

In our lives, the number one priority should be the expansion of our own self awareness. We need to become aware, accept, and in some cases adjust the truth about our selves and our world.

To examine this narrative and build self-confidence, we have the possibility of reversing that narrative and speak from expertise as the person we would like to believe that we are. We are who we think that we are.

We can achieve this through the following:

  • Cease automatically and arbitrarily defending your own viewpoints as being binary (i.e., right/wrong, or black/white). This relentless attack/defense stops us from receiving new ideas.
  • Problematize and reassess your concepts, values, belief systems, assumptions, defenses, goals, hopes, and truths.
  • Understand, evaluate, and revise your real needs and motivations.
  • Learn to trust your intution. 
  • Observe your mistakes and try to correct them. we learn more about ourselves through this process.
  • Love yourself and others.
  • Listen without prejudice and evaluation. Train yourself to listen to WHAT someone is saying without auditing their expressions.
  • Recognize what you are defending most of the time.
  • Understanding that the end result and your unlocked awareness will provide the means and motivation needed to enact further change in your life.

Ian O'Byrne

Trust thyself, every heart vibrates to that iron string. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

2 min read

Bondage or liberty as we consider aspects of self-reliance in our daily interactions.

A self-confident personality is not possible until we build a solid foundation of self-reliance.

The main deterrent to self-reliance is the mistaken certainty that others are smarter, wiser or more intelligent than we are. This causes us to look to others for our happiness and welfare. The person who is dependent in this sense must always reach out to something external.

Self-reliance is not only the belief that you can handle things and become successful, it is something more than that. It is having the courage to listen to your inner prompting for a hint of the kind of success you truly desire. It means taking your cue from yourself – not listening to something or someone outside yourself to get an idea of what you should be, do or have. When we learn to read the “signs” correctly and follow our intuition we can begin to trust ourselves and not follow the beat of someone else’s drum.

The habit of leaning and depending is so ingrained in certain individuals that they abdicate all personal authority in favor of another person, philosophy or religion. They feel that they will be secure if they can find a person, organization or religion that that they can cling to with blind devotion. They allow this person, organization or religion to be responsible for their happiness. 

Ian O'Byrne

Trust is like blood pressure. It's silent, vital to good health, and if abused it can be deadly. - Frank Sonnenberg

1 min read

What is Trust?

Trust is the belief by the trustor that the trustee is capable of delivering on a promise.

Trust is the belief by the trustor that the trustee is honest and fair and will not exploit the trustor's vulnerability.

How can you grow or build trust?

Giving trust involves taking a risk. Trying to reduce the risk means possibily reduing the trust involved in that relationship. 

Honesty and timing are key factors in building and rebuilding trust. Be truthful and realistic. Communicate.

Transparency. You need to dare to bare it all in the relationship and put yourself out there. 

Practice what you preach. Lead by example.

How can you build trust culture?

If you start with trust and stick to it, others will follow. Trust can be part of the DNA of what makes up the habits and practices of the culture. 

Ian O'Byrne

February 24, 2016

2 min read

As we enter the marketplace, or build up a digital identity that is representative of our skills, we upload our resume/CV. We can use badges/credentials to signify growth/learning. We can use networks, like LinkedIN to express our values and have others review/vet them.

One of the challenges in this is that when we look for a job, there are usually two questions that many jobs will ask. Are you the right fit and are you the right fit?

First, are you the right fit for the position? E.g., credentials, degree, background knowledge, experience, etc. In higher ed…most of this is done before you get through the front door. They’ve gone through your materials, and cut through the people that just don’t fit.

Second...usually when you meet F2F, are you the right fit? Would you fit in with the culture? Are you a jerk? Also, would you want to fit in with them?

I’m wondering what badges would do in that infrastructure.

As we move to a distributed economy in which people/colleagues/associates might rarely/never meet F2F, how do we make these judgements?

There are the skills, degrees, and credentials…but how do you assess those soft skills? Yes, we trust the filters…but how do you evaluate/justify if someone is an jerk or not? How do you evaluate that second fit?

Ian O'Byrne

January 19, 2016

2 min read

Don't worry about things. Don't push. Just do your work and you'll survive. The important thing is to have a ball, to be joyful, to be loving and to be explosive. Out of that comes everything and you grow. - Ray Bradbury

This Bradbury quote is a good way to start up a new week and thinking about goals. In thinking and developing my ideas around the online classes, I've had a big first leap, but it's hard to keep up consistency going. That is also mediated by the challenges as new classes get started, research gets up and running...and life gets in the way. As all of this happens, you sometimes have these larger goals that you need to carve out time for...and you get concerned about whether or not you'll have time to unpack them, and get them done.

Throughout my history, good things come when I usually just trust my gut, put my nose to the grindstone and get things done.

When I try to project to the future and plan out what will happen, then I spend time procrastinating. I clean my office, clean my desk, reorganize files on my computer. I need to just put a task in front of me...and get it done.

Part of this quote that also resonates with me includes elements that are much more than just "get it done"'s the thinking about having fun, being joyful, and being explosive. There is the part of me that loves the "being explosive" element. I cannot forget that.